Supreme Court Relief For Paralympics Shooter In Row Over Selection

Tokyo Paralympics: Naresh Kumar Sharma alleged the national Paralympics selection committee adopted criteria "contrary to the norms of the National Sports Development Code" - for selection

Supreme Court Relief For Paralympics Shooter In Row Over Selection

Naresh Kumar Sharma is an Arjuna Award winner and five-time Paralympics shooter (File)

New Delhi:

The Supreme Court on Monday directed the Paralympic Committee of India to recommend Naresh Kumar Sharma's name as an additional participant in the 50m Para Shooter category for the Tokyo Paralympics, which is scheduled to begin on August 24.

The court has asked for a compliance report by tomorrow.

Mr Sharma had moved the top court challenging a Delhi High Court order that said his plea (related to his non-selection) would be heard on Friday - four days after the deadline for entries.

A five-time Paralympics shooter and an Arjuna Award winner - he had claimed his non-selection in favour of another athlete - Deepak - was "arbitrary, discriminatory and capricious".

"The petitioner humbly seeks intervention of this court in the present matter as the legitimate opportunity of the petitioner to participate in Tokyo Paralympics in R7 event, and consequently bring laurels to the country, will be lost if the arbitrary, discriminatory and capricious selection... by the selection committee of PCI (Paralympics Committee of India is allowed," his petition had said.

"If matter is heard on August 6, it would make the plea infructuous," Mr Sharma told the top court.

In a statement issued after the court's order, the committee said its selection had been "fair and judicious" and that each athlete's performance had been "keenly monitored and recorded".

The PCI further said Mr Sharma's name had been rejected by the International Paralympic Committee, and that it was unable to present its argument in court because the athlete had "mentioned the matter in front of the Supreme Court without any intimation to the PCI".

"All selection criteria are already on the website and have been followed to the letter and spirit. We have high regards for Mr Naresh Kumar, who has been our shooter for many years... but this time he has failed the selection criteria," the PCI said.

"All selected shooters have qualified with much better scores... Mr Naresh Kumar has failed to win any quota for the country in the last four years

"Selection criteria is at the discretion of the International Paralympic Committee and PCI has no active role, apart from conducting selection as per the guidelines," the statement said.

The PCI, however, also said it would follow the Supreme Court's direction and would "once again recommend Mr Naresh Kumar's name for selection".

Mr Sharma had alleged that the PCI selection committee adopted wrong criteria - which he said were "contrary to the norms of the National Sports Development Code" - for selection of athletes.

Mr Sharma pointed out that in order to participate in the 2020 Tokyo Paralympics, a para shooter must have participated in at least two events approved by World Shooting Para Sports.

However, Deepak (who was selected in his place) has participated in only one such event, Mr Sharma claimed, adding that the committee had added points for participating in the Serbia Grand Prix, which is not approved by World Shooting Para Sports.